I read with interest and growing apprehension the description of the consideration of The Health Center alliance with the College Place School District. Some clarification is in order.

Years ago, I began working with The Health Center at Lincoln, a nonprofit school-based health center that treats youths attending the local alternative public high school. It began with a dream and a conviction these students, many of whom came from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds, would be more successful if their health needs, including mental health, were addressed at the school.

The idea was many-faceted, but grew into a practice that allows students to seek care at the place in which they learn, in a safe, effective environment that encourages honesty and forthrightness and allows our staff to find the best treatment available.

Sometimes they simply need to get out of a stressful situation.

Sometimes they have health concerns that merit on-site treatment, transfer to urgent care, or transport home.

We coordinate care with their primary providers and help them arrange for more specialized treatment. We connect them with counseling if appropriate to help them handle situations that are often out of their control.

Our approach helps curtail truancy, catches problems before they become emergencies, teaches students about their bodies and health and disease prevention, and works to encourage student and life success.

It has been gratifying to see the growth of these students and to help them become the people they are meant to be.

From our beginning, The Health Center has been a supporter of kids. Our goal is to advance the success of students by addressing their physical, emotional and social needs.

We have worked fervently on behalf of the students of Lincoln High School and Blue Ridge High School to accomplish those goals. Any attempt to corral care into a narrower definition undercuts the fine work many caregivers have provided over the years.

We are in partnership with schools and parents and other health care providers, with a commitment to teaching children of all ages about their bodies — about being healthy and taking responsibility for their own health — and our strong relationship with those schools reflects our commitment to those values.

A partnership with College Place School District, should one develop, would be an extension of those same values, with those same relationship strengths, all for the benefit of kids and learning.

Laura Norris

Nurse practitioner, The Health Center

Walla Walla